- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 31, 2020

Russ Vought, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), said Thursday that his team isn’t hamstringing President-elect Joseph R. Biden’s transition into office.

Mr. Vought said he wanted to correct “several false statements” that the Biden transition team is making about OMB’s cooperation during the post-election period.

Mr. Vought said OMB staff members have taken 45 meetings with Mr. Biden’s transition staff since Nov. 23 and that the budget office has “fully participated” in “appropriate transition efforts.”

“What we have not done and will not do is use current OMB staff to write … legislative policy proposals to dismantle this Administration’s work,” Mr. Vought said in a letter to Ted Kaufman, who is leading Mr. Biden’s transition team.

Mr. Vought also sent an identical letter to Jeff Zients, who Mr. Biden named as his COVID-19 czar.

He said his team isn’t responsible for redirecting staff and resources to draft the Biden team’s budget proposals.

“Our system of government has one President and one Administration at a time,” Mr. Vought wrote. “OMB will not participate in developing policies that will weaken border security, dismantle the President’s deregulatory successes, and draft budgets that will bankrupt America.”

Mr. Biden and his team have complained that Mr. Vought’s staff and Pentagon officials are dragging their feet on providing necessary information to the transition team.

Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller has likewise pushed back on the notion that DoD officials are being less than cooperative.

Yohannes Abraham, executive director of Mr. Biden’s transition team, told reporters this week that the lack of cooperation could delay the rollout of the incoming administration’s new budget blueprint.

“OMB leadership’s refusal to fully cooperate impairs our ability to identify opportunities to maximize the relief going out to Americans during the pandemic and it leaves us in the dark as it relates to COVID-related expenditures and critical gaps,” Mr. Abraham said.

Mr. Vought said Mr. Biden’s team has been briefed by OMB and relevant agencies on the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed on vaccine developments and other COVID relief efforts.

“Furthermore, there is record of your team accessing these critical documents just last week,” Mr. Vought said in his Thursday letter.

Andrew Bates, a spokesman for the transition, said Mr. Vought’s letter was contradictory and confirmed the Biden team’s complaints from this week.

“The president-elect will continue to work in good faith to lift our country out of this emergency as quickly as possible. There is one responsible course of action,” he said.

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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